Hamas

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Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 29/05/2021 - 6:39am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

May 27, 2021 Khaled Hroub on the history, structure, and politics of Hamas • Pablo Abufom, author of this article, on the Chilean elections, a victory for the left

“The Hamas” are Coming: A View of the Violence from Inside Israel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/05/2021 - 6:02am in

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — After less than 48 hours in Jerusalem, it’s clear to me that the slaughter in Gaza will not end anytime soon. There is broad popular support in Israel for the endless bloodshed and Benjamin Netanyahu is as strong as ever both domestically and internationally.

According to the Israeli press, Netanyahu and his cabinet all received calls from President Joe Biden and members of his cabinet demonstrating their undying, never-ending, and unconditional support for the bloodletting of Palestinians. As hard as this is to see — particularly from Jerusalem, where I am less than an hour drive from Gaza — there should be no surprise.

When Joe Biden says he is a Zionist, he means he supports apartheid, ethnic cleansing and genocide in Palestine. It means that he will give unlimited money and weapons to Israel to execute the cruelest, bloodiest, most racist policies against the Palestinians, no questions asked.

 

“The Hamas”

All morning long (and it’s only 9 a.m.) the Israeli TV (all channels) displays guests of expert panelists, former IDF generals, and colonels (who knew there were so many?) who spew lies to excuse, justify, and even glorify the IDF actions in Gaza.

“We all support the IDF and its commanders,” they say as reports of more death and destruction come out of the Gaza Strip. There was some memo no doubt that told everyone on TV to say “The Hamas” whenever they talk about Palestinians in Gaza.

There are never Palestinians, never people, only “The Hamas” — and “The Hamas” is, by the way, male and singular (in Hebrew). “The Hamas thinks;” “The Hamas believes;” “The Hamas should know;” “When the Hamas understands, he will stop;” and finally, “When The Hamas is hit hard he will never dare to attack Israel again.”

Needless to say, none of the panelists are Palestinians. Instead, Israeli news programs have their “Arab Affair” experts on, their “The Hamas” experts, and their experts on the “Arab community in Israel.”

Israeli Jews know enough to analyze, explain and mostly justify Israeli violence against Palestinians everywhere, yet nowhere does one hear that the indigenous people of Palestine — the people to whom this country belongs, and who have been wronged in so many ways — are speaking up.

 

Regular people — enormous suffering

This morning I received an email from a friend in East Jerusalem. In this email, she poses a question that is perhaps impossible to answer:

Yesterday my youngest grandson who turned 15 at the beginning of this month was walking in our neighborhood towards the barbershop to have a haircut when he was stopped by 10 soldiers who beat him up before letting him go. Why? Can anybody who has any common sense answer me? There were no demonstrations, and the people in our neighborhood were going about their own business. The soldiers were in their full gear and were not in any danger.”

How can one explain the actions of armed, racist gangs who wear an official uniform, who represent the State and use their power and status and weapons to beat and intimidate people who want to live a normal life? It is not unlike trying to understand the actions of former Minneapolis police officer and now inmate Derek Chauvin, who calmly and coldly murdered George Floyd in broad daylight, in front of people holding cameras and taking videos. Can a rational, healthy mind explain any of this?


The bodies of children killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza’s ash Shati refugee camp, May 15, 2021. Mohammed Zaanoun | Activestills

 

General strike

A general strike was declared in Palestine on May 18 and the subsequent rallies and protests that took place throughout Palestine left several Palestinians dead and wounded. In advance of the strike, some Israeli employers already said that any Palestinian not showing for work that day would be fired. About one-third of the Israeli economy relies heavily on the Palestinian citizens of Israel. In Israeli hospitals, large numbers of doctors, nurses, and maintenance staff are Palestinian citizens of Israel. They have the capacity to bring the hospitals and the Israeli economy to its knees.

It was reported that the supervisor for Palestinian schools within 1948 Palestine in the Northern District already requested the names of any teachers who did not show up for work in Qalasawe and Taibe, two large Palestinian cities. According to Israeli law, the firing of an employee must be done in person and the employee may have a representative and the various unions to provide legal representation free of charge. The big question mark remains: Will Palestinian citizens of Israel be able to avail themselves of this service and this law?

I was also warned by friends that when I come to visit people anywhere in the area of the “Small Triangle” — or the cities of Qalansawe, Taibe, and Tira — to come during the day. After dark, I was warned, the roads are closed because of protests and the police arrest, beat up, and shoot indiscriminately.

 

Jerusalem

Towards the end of the 1967 Israeli assault on Arab lands, the eastern part of the city of Jerusalem was occupied by Israel, including the Old City and the al-Aqsa Mosque. This assault had enormous consequences and in Israeli collective memory there is one sentence that is the most iconic of the entire war. When the Haram al-Sharif was taken by Israeli forces, the commander reported “Har Ha’bait Beyadeinu” — The Temple Mount is in our hands. The most iconic photo from that war is that of the conquering soldiers by the Western Wall.

The commander, Mordechai Gur, was not a religious man. His soldiers were not religious people and in those days one did not see the religious Zionists that one sees in Israel today. This comment was made because even secular Israelis look at the Haram al-Sharif — the al-Aqsa compound — and believe it should be used as a national symbol, a place that represents something that Israel lost and deserves to take back. And so, the desire to see al-Aqsa destroyed and a structure they call a temple built instead is not merely a religious sentiment but a neo-fascist and nationalistic one as well.

Violence, racism, neo-fascist attitudes, and a toxic mix of religion and nationality make Zionism very dangerous. From Gaza to al-Aqsa, from the Naqab in the south to the Wadi Ara in the north, we are seeing the dangerous elements of Zionism at work.

Feature photo | Israelis await sirens warning of a possible “Hams’ rocket attack in a home in Ashkelon, May 20, 2021. John Minchillo | AP

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post “The Hamas” are Coming: A View of the Violence from Inside Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

Palestinian Elections Under Fire: An Impossible Democracy Dilemma

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 12/03/2021 - 1:52am in

Many Palestinian intellectuals and political analysts find themselves in the unenviable position of having to declare a stance on whether they support or reject upcoming Palestinian elections which are scheduled for May 22 and July 30. But there are no easy answers.

The long-awaited decree by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last January to hold legislative and presidential elections in the coming months was widely welcomed,  not as a triumph for democracy but as the first tangible positive outcome of dialogue between rival Palestinian factions, mainly Abbas’ Fatah party and Hamas.

As far as inner Palestinian dialogue is concerned, the elections, if held unobstructed, could present a ray of hope that, finally, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories will enjoy a degree of democratic representation, a first step towards a more comprehensive representation that could include millions of Palestinians outside the Occupied Territories.

But even such humble expectations are conditioned on many “ifs”: only if Palestinian factions honor their commitments to the Istanbul Agreement of September 24; only if Israel allows Palestinians, including Jerusalemites, to vote unhindered and refrains from arresting Palestinian candidates; only if the US-led international community accepts the outcome of the democratic elections without punishing victorious parties and candidates; only if the legislative and presidential elections are followed by the more consequential and substantive elections in the Palestinian National Council (PNC) – the Palestinian Parliament in exile – and so on.

If any of these conditions is unsatisfactory, the May elections are likely to serve no practical purpose, aside from giving Abbas and his rivals the veneer of legitimacy, thus allowing them to buy yet more time and acquire yet more funds from their financial benefactors.

All of this compels us to consider the following question: is democracy possible under military occupation?

Almost immediately following the last democratic Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, the outcome of which displeased Israel, 62 Palestinian ministers and members of the new parliament were thrown into prison, with many still imprisoned.

History is repeating itself as Israel has already begun its arrest campaigns of Hamas leaders and members in the West Bank. On February 22, over 20 Palestinian activists, including Hamas officials, were detained as a clear message from the Israeli occupation to Palestinians that Israel does not recognize their dialogue, their unity agreements or their democracy.

Two days later, 67-year-old Hamas leader, Omar Barghouti, was summoned by the Israeli military intelligence in the occupied West Bank and warned against running in the upcoming May elections. “The Israeli officer warned me not to run in the upcoming elections and threatened me with imprisonment if I did,” Barghouti was quoted by Al-Monitor.


IDF soldiers patrol the Palestinian side of Israel’s apartheid wall in front of a mural of Marwan Barghouti. Nasser Shiyoukhi | AP

The Palestinian Basic Law allows prisoners to run for elections, whether legislative or presidential, simply because the most popular among Palestinian leaders are often behind bars. Marwan Barghouti is one.

Imprisoned since 2002, Barghouti remains Fatah’s most popular leader, though appreciated more by the movement’s young cadre, as opposed to Abbas’ old guard. The latter group has immensely benefited from the corrupt system of political patronage upon which the 85-year-old president has constructed his Authority.

To sustain this corrupt system, Abbas and his clique labored to marginalize Barghouti, leading to the suggestion that Israel’s imprisonment of Fatah’s vibrant leader serves the interests of the current Palestinian President.

This claim has much substance, not only because Abbas has done little to pressure Israel to release Barghouti but also because all credible public opinion polls suggest that Barghouti is far more popular among Fatah’s supporters – in fact all Palestinians – than Abbas.

On February 11, Abbas dispatched Hussein al-Sheikh, the Minister of Civilian Affairs and a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, to dissuade Barghouti from running in the upcoming presidential elections. An ideal scenario for the Palestinian President would be to take advantage of Barghouti’s popularity by having him lead the Fatah list in the contest for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Hence, Abbas could ensure a strong turnout by Fatah supporters, while securing the chair of presidency for himself.

Barghouti vehemently rejected Abbas’ request, thus raising an unexpected challenge to Abbas, who now risks dividing the Fatah vote, losing the PLC elections, again, to Hamas and losing the presidential elections to Barghouti.

Between the nightly raids and crackdowns by the Israeli military and the political intrigues within the divided Fatah movement, one wonders if the elections, if they take place, will finally allow Palestinians to mount a united front in the struggle against Israeli occupation and for Palestinian freedom.

Then, there is the issue of the possible position of the ‘international community’ regarding the outcome of the elections. News reports speak of efforts made by Hamas to seek guarantees from Qatar and Egypt “to ensure Israel will not pursue its representatives and candidates in the upcoming elections,” Al-Monitor also reported.

But what kind of guarantees can Arab countries obtain from Tel Aviv, and what kind of leverage can Doha and Cairo have when Israel continues to disregard the United Nations, international law, the International Criminal Court, and so on?

Nevertheless, can Palestinian democracy afford to subsist in its state of inertia? Abbas’ mandate as president expired in 2009, the PLC’s mandate expired in 2010 and, in fact, the Palestinian Authority was set up as an interim political body, whose function should have ceased in 1999. Since then, the ‘Palestinian leadership’ has not enjoyed legitimacy among Palestinians, deriving its relevance, instead, from the support of its benefactors, who are rarely interested in supporting democracy in Palestine.

The only silver lining in the story is that Fatah and Hamas have also agreed on the restructuring of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which is now largely monopolized by Abbas’ Fatah movement. Whether the democratic revamping of the PLO takes place or not, largely depends on the outcome of the May and July elections.

Palestine, like other Middle Eastern countries, including Israel, does have a crisis of political legitimacy. Since Palestine is an occupied land with little or no freedom, one is justified to argue that true democracy under these horrific conditions cannot possibly be achieved.

Feature photo  | Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti appears in an Israeli court. Bernat Armangue | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The post Palestinian Elections Under Fire: An Impossible Democracy Dilemma appeared first on MintPress News.

Engaging the World: The ‘Fascinating Story’ of Hamas’s Political Evolution

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/03/2021 - 7:23am in

On February 4, representatives from the Palestinian Movement, Hamas, visited Moscow to inform the Russian government of the latest development on the unity talks between the Islamic Movement and its Palestinian counterparts, especially Fatah.

This was not the first time that Hamas’s officials traveled to Moscow on similar missions. In fact, Moscow continues to represent an important political breathing space for Hamas, which has been isolated by Israel’s Western benefactors. Involved in this isolation are also several Arab governments which, undoubtedly, have done very little to break the Israeli siege on Gaza.

The Russia-Hamas closeness is already paying dividends. On February 17, shipments of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, have made it to Gaza via Israel, a testament to that growing rapport.

While Russia alone cannot affect a complete paradigm shift in the case of Palestine, Hamas feels that a Russian alternative to the blind and conditional American support for Israel is possible, if not urgent.

Recently, we interviewed Dr. Daud Abdullah, the author of ‘Engaging the World: The Making of Hamas’s Foreign Policy’, and Mr. Na’eem Jeenah, Director of the Afro-Middle East Center in Johannesburg, which published Dr. Abdullah’s book.

Abdullah’s volume on Hamas is a must-read, as it offers a unique take on Hamas, liberating the discussion on the Movement from the confines of the reductionist Western media’s perception of Hamas as terrorist – and of the counterclaims, as well. In this book, Hamas is viewed as a political actor, whose armed resistance is only a component in a complex and far-reaching strategy.

 

Why Russia?

As Moscow continues to cement its presence in the region by offering itself as a political partner and, compared with the US, a more balanced mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, Hamas sees the developing Russian role as a rare opportunity to break away from the US-Israel imposed isolation.

“Russia was a member of the Quartet that was set up in 2003 but, of course, as a member of the (United Nations) Security Council, it has always had an ability to inform the discourse on Palestine,” Abdullah said, adding that in light of “the gradual demise of American influence, Russia realized that there was an emerging vacuum in the region, particularly after the (Arab) uprisings.”

“With regard to Hamas and Russia the relationship took off after the (Palestinian) elections in 2006 but it was not Hamas’s initiative, it was (Russian President Vladimir) Putin who, in a press conference in Madrid after the election, said that he would be willing to host Hamas’s leadership in Moscow. Because Russia is looking for a place in the region.”

Hamas’s willingness to engage with the Russians has more than one reason, chief among them is the fact that Moscow, unlike the US, refused to abide by Israel’s portrayal of the Movement. “The fundamental difference between Russia and America and China … is that the Russians and the Chinese do not recognize Hamas as a ‘terrorist organization’; they have never done so, unlike the Americans, and so it made it easy for them to engage openly with Hamas,” Abdullah said.

 

On Hamas’s ‘Strategic Balance’

In his book, Abdullah writes about the 1993 Oslo Accords, which represented a watershed moment, not only for Hamas but also for the entire Palestinian liberation struggle. The shift towards a US-led ‘peace process’ compelled Hamas to maintain a delicate balance “between strategic objectives and tactical flexibility.”

Abdullah wrote,

Hamas sees foreign relations as an integral and important part of its political ideology and liberation strategy. Soon after the Movement emerged, foreign policies were developed to help its leaders and members navigate this tension between idealism and realism. This pragmatism is evident in the fact that Hamas was able to establish relations with the regimes of Muammar Gaddhafi in Libya and Bashar al-Assad in Syria, both of whom were fiercely opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The Making of Hamas's Foreign PolicyIn our interview, Abdullah elaborated:

From the very beginning, Hamas adopted certain principles in respect to its international relations and, later on, in the formation of a foreign policy. Among these, there is a question of maintaining its independence of decision-making; non-alignment in conflicting blocks, avoidance of interference in the affairs of other states.”

Mr. Jeenah, an accomplished writer himself, also spoke of the “delicate balance.”

“It is a delicate balance, and a difficult one to maintain because, at this stage, when movements are regarded and regard themselves as liberation movements, they need to have higher moral and ethical standards than, for example, governments,” Jeenah said.

For some reason, we expect that governments have to make difficult choices but, with liberation movements, we don’t, because they are all about idealism and creating an ideal society, etc.”

Jeenah uses the South Africa anti-apartheid struggle which, in many ways, is comparable to the Palestinian quest for freedom, to illustrate his point:

When the liberation movement in South Africa was exiled, they took a similar kind of position. While some of them might have had a particular allegiance to the Soviet Union or to China, some of them also had strong operations in European countries, which they regarded as part of the bigger empire. Nevertheless, they had the freedom to operate there. Some of them operated in other African countries where there were dictatorships and they got protection from those states.”

 

Hamas and the Question of National Unity

In his book, which promises to be an essential read on the subject, Abdullah lists six principles that guide Hamas’s political agenda. One of these guiding principles is the “search for common ground.”

In addressing the question of Palestinian factionalism, we contended that, while Fatah has failed at creating a common, nominally democratic platform for Palestinians to interact politically, Hamas cannot be entirely blameless. If that is, indeed, the case, can one then make the assertion that Hamas has succeeded in its search for the elusive common ground?

Abdullah answers:

Let me begin with what happened after the elections in 2006. Although Hamas won convincingly and they could have formed a government, they decided to opt for a government of national unity. They offered to (Palestinian Authority President) Mahmoud Abbas and to (his party) Fatah to come into a government of national unity. They didn’t want to govern by themselves. And that, to me, is emblematic of their vision, their commitment to national unity.”

But the question of national unity, however coveted and urgently required, is not just controlled by Palestinians.

“The PLO is the one that signed the Oslo Accords,” Abdullah said, “and I think this is one of Hamas’s weaknesses: as much as it wants national unity and a reform of the PLO, the fact of the matter is Israel and the West will not allow Hamas to enter into the PLO easily, because this would be the end of Oslo.”

 

On Elections under Military Occupation

On January 15, Abbas announced an official decree to hold Palestinian elections, first presidential, then legislative, then elections within the PLO’s Palestine National Council (PNC), which has historically served as a Palestinian parliament in exile. The first phase of these elections is scheduled for May 22.

But will this solve the endemic problem of Palestinian political representation? Moreover, is this the proper historical evolution of national liberation movements – democracy under military occupation, followed by liberation, instead of the other way around?

Jeenah spoke of this dichotomy: “On the one hand, elections are an opportunity for Palestinians to express their choices. On the other hand, what is the election really? We are not talking about a democratic election for the State, but for a Bantustan authority, at greater restraints than the South African authority.”

Moreover, the Israeli “occupying power will not make the mistake it did the last time. It will not allow such freedom (because of which) Hamas (had) won the elections. I don’t think Israel is going to allow it now.”

Yet there is a silver lining in this unpromising scenario. According to Jeenah, “I think the only difference this election could make is allowing some kind of reconciliation between Gaza and the West Bank.”

 

Hamas, the ICC and War Crimes

Then, there is the urgent question of the anticipated war crime investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Yet, when the ICC agreed to consider allegations of war crimes in Palestine, chances are not only alleged Israeli war criminals are expected to be investigated, but the probe could potentially consider the questioning of Palestinians, as well. Should not this concern Hamas in the least?

In the Israeli wars on Gaza in 2008, 2012, and 2014, Hamas, along with other armed groups had no other option but to “defend the civilian population,” Abdullah said, pointing out that the “overriding concept” is that the Movement “believes in the principle of international law.”

If Hamas “can restore the rights of the Palestinian people through legal channels, then it will be much easier for the Movement, rather than having to opt for the armed struggle,” Abdullah asserted.

 

Understanding Hamas

Undoubtedly, it is crucial to understand Hamas, not only as part of the Palestine-related academic discourse, but in the everyday political discourse concerning Palestine; in fact, the entire region. Abdullah’s book is itself critical to this understanding.

Jeenah argued that Abdullah’s book is not necessarily an “introductory text to the Hamas Movement. It has a particular focus, which is the development of Hamas’s foreign policy. The importance of that, in general, is firstly that there isn’t a text that deals specifically with Hamas’s foreign policy. What this book does is present Hamas as a real political actor.”

The evolution of Hamas’s political discourse and behavior since its inception, according to Jeenah, is a “fascinating” one.

Many agree. Commenting on the book, leading Israeli historian, Professor Ilan Pappé, wrote,

“This book challenges successfully the common misrepresentation of Hamas in the West. It is a must-read for anyone engaged with the Palestine issue and interested in an honest introduction to this important Palestinian Movement.”

[Dr. Daud Abdullah’s book, Engaging the World: The Making of Hamas’s Foreign Policy, is available here.]

Feature photo | Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, waves during a rally marking the 31st anniversary of the founding of Hamas, in Gaza city. Khalil Hamra | AP

Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the Managing Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appear in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

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